Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor of Biology

358 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
My research focuses on understanding the evolutionary relationships of ancient land plants, especially ferns and horsetails, by integrating evidence from morphology, molecules (DNA sequence data from multiple genes), and the fossil record. I use an explicit phylogenetic framework to examine the morphological evolution of various sporophytic and gametophytic characters within vascular plants, and to gain insight into the evolution of various life history traits and the body plans that typify vascular plants. A phylogenetic perspective also informs my molecular evolutionary studies that attempt to elucidate why we observe remarkable rate heterogeneity in chloroplast genes in land plant phylogeny.


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1995

  • M.S., University of Guelph (Canada) 1981

  • B.S., McGill University (Canada) 1976

Sigel, E. M., M. D. Windham, A. R. Smith, R. J. Dyer, and K. M. Pryer. “Rediscovery of Polypodium calirhiza (Polypodiaceae) in Mexico.” Brittonia, 2014, 1–9.

Rothfels, C. J., M. D. Windham, and K. M. Pryer. “A plastid phylogeny of the cosmopolitan fern family cystopteridaceae (Polypodiopsida).” Systematic Botany 38, no. 2 (June 1, 2013): 295–306. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364413X666787. Full Text

León, B., C. J. Rothfels, M. Arakaki, K. R. Young, and K. M. Pryer. “Revealing a cryptic fern distribution through DNA sequencing: Pityrogramma trifoliata in the Western Andes of Peru.” American Fern Journal 103, no. 1 (January 1, 2013): 40–48. https://doi.org/10.1640/0002-8444-103.1.40. Full Text

Rothfels, Carl J., Anders Larsson, Fay-Wei Li, Erin M. Sigel, Layne Huiet, Dylan O. Burge, Markus Ruhsam, et al. “Transcriptome-mining for single-copy nuclear markers in ferns.Plos One 8, no. 10 (January 2013): e76957. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076957. Full Text

Grusz, A. L., K. M. Pryer, G. Yatskievych, R. L. Huiet, G. J. Gastony, and M. D. Windham. “Refining the phylogeny of cheilanthoid ferns: The resurrection and recircumscription of Myriopteris (Pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany, 2013.

Beck, James B., James R. Allison, Kathleen M. Pryer, and Michael D. Windham. “Identifying multiple origins of polyploid taxa: a multilocus study of the hybrid cloak fern (Astrolepis integerrima; Pteridaceae).American Journal of Botany 99, no. 11 (November 2012): 1857–65. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1200199. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M. “The Distinguished Legacy of DMB: Donald MacPhail Britton (1923–2012).” American Fern Journal 102, no. 4 (October 2012): 241–51. https://doi.org/10.1640/0002-8444-102.4.241. Full Text

Li, F. W., K. M. Pryer, and M. D. Windham. “Gaga, a new fern genus segregated from cheilanthes (pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 37, no. 4 (October 1, 2012): 845–60. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364412X656626. Full Text Open Access Copy

Johnson, Anne K., Carl J. Rothfels, Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Unique expression of a sporophytic character on the gametophytes of notholaenid ferns (Pteridaceae).American Journal of Botany 99, no. 6 (June 2012): 1118–24. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1200049. Full Text

Rothfels, Carl J., Anders Larsson, Li-Yaung Kuo, Petra Korall, Wen-Liang Chiou, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Overcoming deep roots, fast rates, and short internodes to resolve the ancient rapid radiation of eupolypod II ferns.Systematic Biology 61, no. 3 (May 2012): 490–509. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/sys001. Full Text